Governor BS Koshyari has caught a lot of flak for his words over the years.
He has courted controversy through comments on social reformers Savitribai and Jyotiba Phule for their early marriage and his statement on Samarth Ramdas being the guru of Chhatrapati Shivaji.
During the previous Maha Vikas Aghadi government, Koshyari was at the centre of a storm multiple times for his war of words with political leaders.
On March 3 this year, he faced flak over derogatory comments on social pioneers Jyotiba Phule and Savitribai Phule. The allegedly mocking tone while referring to their child marriage was condemned for “breach of propriety” on twitter and by political leaders.
Koshyari had said, “Savitribai was married off when she was 10 years old. And her husband Jyotirao was 13. Now imagine, what would the boy and girl have been doing after marriage? What would they have been thinking?”
The state Congress had slammed him in a tweet: “What gestures, what laughter. Disgusting essence. Speaking about Krantijyoti Savitribai Phule, Koshyari’s speech shows the distorted mentality of the Sangh. It is unfortunate for Maharashtra to have a Governor who does not know where, when and what to say!”
Earlier, on February 8, he had stoked a controversy, claiming that Samarth Ramdas was Chhatrapati Shivaji’s guru.
“Many chakravartis (emperors), maharajas took birth on this land. But, who would have asked about Chandragupta had there not been Chanakya? Who would have asked about Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj had there not been Samarth (Ramdas),” he said, adding, “I am not questioning the calibre of Chandragupta and Shivaji Maharaj. Like a mother who plays a key role in shaping her child. Similarly, the role of guru (teacher) has a big place in our society.”
The Governor came under serious attack from both the ruling and opposition parties.
His statement came when the rift between him and the MVA government was widening. After protests and politicians taking strong exception, he had clarified that “Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is the inspiration of the nation and from what I knew, from what I had read in the early days, I knew that Samarth Ramdas Swami was his guru. But if people have told me some facts from history, I will check those facts further.”
Later, NCP MP Supriya Sule uploaded a video with party president Sharad Pawar explaining that Chhatrapati Shivaji’s mother Jijamata was his guru.
The rocky relationship between the Governor and the MVA government was visible in September last year when he called for a special session of the state assembly following the rape and murder of a woman in Mumbai’s Sakinaka. He attached the representation made by women BJP leaders demanding a special session.
However, the then chief minister Uddhav Thackeray hit back saying that Koshyari should request the Centre to call a session of parliament to discuss issues concerning the safety of women and growing attacks on them.
Thackeray listed crimes against women in the BJP-ruled states like Uttarakhand, the home state of Koshyari, and said he had “the soul of a political worker”.
He stated that such “instructions” by the Governor could stoke a new controversy and are damaging to the democratic parliamentary procedures.
In October 2020, a rift between the Governor and the CM surfaced over the reopening of temples during the pandemic. Koshyari had ridiculed Thackeray’s decision to reopen bars and restaurants and not places of worship.
“I wonder if you’re receiving any divine premonition to keep postponing the reopening or you’ve suddenly turned ‘secular’, the term you hated?”
Thackeray had shot back in his response to the Governor saying that he does not need lessons on Hindutva from him. Thackeray said he failed to understand the Hindutva ideology of the Governor after the latter invited over a person who equated Mumbai with Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
The contention over Hindutva ideology, however, is what finally did the MVA government in.